Sunflower – helianthus annuus – This fast-growing annual has a thick, tall, hairy stem, heart-shaped leaves, and large yellow flower heads in late summer. The nutritious seeds are eaten raw, roasted, and ground into meal or nut butter and were used by Native American warriors as “energy cakes.” The flower buds give a yellow dye and are cooked like artichokes. The pressed seeds yield an all-purpose oil with culinary, cosmetic, and industrial uses. Medicinally, the seeds are used as a diuretic and expectorant and treat coughs, dysentery, and kidney inflammation. The root is a laxative and treats stomach pain. The stem pith yields potash and fibers for textiles and paper, and its cellular lightness is used for microscope slide mounts. The seed heads provide food for birds in winter.
Aromatherapy & Health Uses: Medicinally, the seeds are used as a diuretic and expectorant and treat coughs, dysentery, and kidney inflammation. The root is a laxative and treats stomach pan.
Other Uses: In Aztec temples of the sun, priestesses carried sunflowers and wore them as crowns. As sun sumbols, these flowers symbolize the healthy ego, the wisdom, and the fertility of the solar logos. Sunflower seeds are eaten by women who wish to concieve.
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